It was time to pack up and leave. Shofiq, who is from Sylhet, was dropped off near his home and the fellowship of the rocks was broken. We settled in for another long drive. We made an impromptu stop at one of the numerous brick factories scattered across Bangladesh. Here, the workers immediately started snapping pictures of us with their phones.
Most field trips have a “death march” hiking a long way through forest, swamps, hills or deserts to get to a remote outcrop. We have a “death bus ride” instead.
Many resettlers are economically better off, but the dislocations remain significant, especially for older resettlers, who have a harder time getting work in the newly developed industrial sector. Although the plight of some resettlers has been quite difficult (one older man competed fiercely to serve as a porter for us for the royal sum of $6), and there are stories of suicide in some resettler communities, it is hard to separate the problems they face from the larger dislocations that are so prevalent in 21st century China.
Mark Becker believed in the power of geospatial data and analysis to motivate our stewardship of the environment and guide development of sustainable approaches that balance human and environmental needs.
The first day was very light for the jet-lagged students, just a short introduction to the field school and some background, and then introductions all around as we started to get to know each other. The final group of nine students finally arrived around 9 p.m. They were the most worn-out, bedraggled bunch of travelers I have ever seen.
Feb. 21 is Language Day in Bangladesh. It is a holiday, now adopted by the UN as International Mother Language Day. It commemorates a day in 1952 when a crowd of Bengali students protesting Pakistan’s adoption of “Urdu and only Urdu as the official language of Pakistan” were fired upon by the police. It marks the beginning of the move towards the independence of East Pakistan.
Rushing around SW Bangladesh by boat and car, we managed to install or repair four GPS sites in record time. We caught up our lost day and managed to get to the ruins of the Shakher Temple in the Sundarban mangrove forest.
Back to Bangladesh for some fieldwork and then a two-week Field School. However, this time we had problems starting before we even left NY. Working in Bangladesh you have to be flexible. Nothing goes as planned, but usually everything works out in the end.
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“It just looked like black rock, but every once in awhile a boulder at the end would fall off and you’d see it was completely red inside. And it made all these cool sounds and you’d feel these little earthquakes… It was totally cool. How could you not like that?”